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Re-Grading the Packers' 2011 Draft

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Re-Grading the Packers' 2011 Draft

Three full seasons have passed since the Green Bay Packers made 10 selections in the 2011 NFL draft. While the most common draft grades come within minutes of a pick, the most accurate are saved for three years down the road. With the requisite time passed, it’s now worth looking back and evaluating the Packers’ 2011 draft class.


1.32 OT Derek Sherrod

Green Bay’s first-round pick is an impossible evaluation thanks to a devastating leg injury that cost Sherrod the better part of his first two seasons. Envisioned as the book-end left tackle opposite Bryan Bulaga, Sherrod has played in only 12 career games with zero starts. He’ll get a chance to win himself a starting job this summer, but 2014 is clearly his crossroads season. It’s very possible he’ll never realize his full potential and the Packers will move on after next season. No one could have predicted such a catastrophic injury derailing his early career, but getting zero starts and only 121 total offensive snaps over the first three years from a first-round pick represents a huge failure.

Grade: F


2.64 WR Randall Cobb

Cobb is one of the NFL’s premier slot receivers and the saving grace for an otherwise ugly draft class. He has 13 career touchdowns on offense and another three on special teams. Over the last two seasons, or 21 total games, he has averaged over five catches and nearly 140 all-purpose yards per contest. Overcame a broken leg to return for the 2013 season finale, and then caught two hugely important scores, including the game-winner that sent Green Bay to the postseason with a third-straight division title. Through four games last season (he broke his leg in Week 5), Cobb was on pace to catch 100 passes for 1,300 yards and eight scores. Given a full season with Aaron Rodgers, Cobb could very easily produce a Pro Bowl season. He’s a special player and one of the best values of the 2011 draft.

Grade: A+


3.96 RB Alex Green

Green looked like an ideal fit for Green Bay’s offense—a one-cut, receiving-friendly running back with starting-level physical tools. That enticing profile never developed for Green, in part because of a season-ending knee injury during his rookie season. Maybe Green was overhyped from the beginning, but tearing up your knee as a cut-dependent back never helps. He returned in 2012 and eventually became a starter after Cedric Benson’s injury, but he lacked both explosion and production. He averaged 3.4 yards per carry and 6.9 per catch. The Packers cut him the following August. The Jets gave him 12 games in 2013 but he produced just 43 total yards. Injury again played a factor, but this was mostly a wasted third-round pick.

Grade: D-


4.131 CB Davon House

Ideal size and speed made House a likable pick in the fourth round. But injuries and inconsistency have plagued his first three years, and he may enter next season as the team’s fourth or fifth cornerback, depending on where Micah Hyde is positioned. House finally played in all 16 games last season, but he made just five starts. Coaches seem to lack trust in him week-to-week. Over 27 career games, he has only one interception. His best contributions have probably come on special teams, which does have worth. Next season will be a big one for his future in Green Bay.

Grade: C


5.141 TE D.J. Williams

Many applauded the Packers’ selection of Williams, who finished college as the Mackey Award winner. Another pass-catcher for Aaron Rodgers? Unfair. But Williams never developed into much of anything, despite shining every August with helmets and shells on. Once the real lights came on, Williams played small and failed to develop a go-to trait. He gave Green Bay just nine catches and 70 yards over 26 games from 2011-12. By roster cuts at the end of last August, he was looking for new employment. He later played nine games for Jacksonville and New England in 2013 but didn’t catch a pass. Williams represents a failure of development.

Grade: D


6.179 G Caleb Schlauderaff

The Packers gave him one training camp before shipping him off to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick—which ended up being a seventh-round pick in 2012. That pick was later packaged to the Patriots in a trade up for Terrell Manning. In other words, this was a complete failure spread over two years.

Grade: F


6.186 LB D.J. Smith

The Packers actually received 22 career games from Smith, an undersized tackling machine from small school Appalachian State. He made six starts as an emergency reserve in 2012 and actually fared well, registering two sacks and holding his own against the run and pass. But then he blew out his knee, and the Packers somewhat surprisingly decided to part ways in April of 2013. He latched on in both San Diego and Houston for last season, and he received a futures deal from Carolina in January. He could have been a nice reserve had he not suffered his injury, but his lack of ideal size was always going to be a detriment.

Grade: C-


6.197 LB Ricky Elmore

A disaster from the very beginning. By the middle of August in 2011, it was obvious his transition from playing college defensive end to outside linebacker in the pros wasn’t going to work. Ted Thompson admitted his mistake and cut him during final cuts. Elmore still hasn’t played in an NFL game.

Grade: F


7.218 TE Ryan Taylor

Amazingly enough, no player from Green Bay’s 2011 draft class has played more games than Tayor’s 45. He hasn’t made much of an impact over those appearances, catching just eight passes for 45 yards and a score. But lasting that long as a seventh-round pick is still a nice feat. He’s stuck thanks to his toughness and special teams ability.

Grade: B-


7.233 DL Lawrence Guy

The Packers never got a full look at Guy, who suffered a concussion in training camp his rookie year and then was placed on injured reserve. The Colts snagged him off Green Bay’s practice squad a year later. He played nine games for Indianapolis in 2012 and 12 for San Diego last season. Maybe he could have carved out a role in the defensive line rotation as a five-techinque. The Packers will never know.

Grade: D


Overview: This class would be viewed as an undeniable drafting calamity had Cobb not been found at the end of the second round. He’s a rising star amongst a group of injured and inconsistent picks. And most haven’t even stuck around. Of the 10 players selected from the bunch, only four remain on Green Bay’s roster. That’s a terrible retention rate and a serious black eye on Thompson’s draft history. Injuries obviously played a huge role for this class, but availability is an important asset in football. Sherrod could help save face if he comes out of nowhere and wins a job next season. If he doesn’t, this will likely go down as Thompson’s worst ever draft class. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (37) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

Pretty ugly, that's for sure.

DrealynWilliams's picture

You sure did beat me to it. I'm over here thinking of ANY and EVERY positive from each pick (minus Cobb) and man it's tough.

I remember tweeting "and the rich has gotten richer" right after we drafted DJ. I don't even think the franchise had higher hopes for him than I.

4thand1's picture

Man I was high on D J Williams, but he sucked. Last pre season he dropped everything. Also I liked D J Smith, seemed they cut ties with him a little quick. We could have used him last year with all the LBer injuries. Alex green was a big let down. Sherrod, who knows. Tuff to lose a #1 pick like they did. Remember, they picked at the bottom of the rounds because they won the SB.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I feel they got rid of Smith a little prematurely too. Yea,he was on the small side,but hell,that didn't stop them from DRAFTING him. When he was called upon to play due to injuries he and Robert Francois filled in beautifully. Plays were actually being made by MLBs in the passing game.

ben's picture

I'm a Davon House fan. Perry too. Their both due for a big year.
House & Cobb = Perry & Heyward & Daniels ???

I have high enough expectations for House that I'm mostly hoping Tramon walks.

I was hoping for Sharrod when we drafted him. I watched all of Sharrod's 121 snaps and was impressed by 0 of them. Then he broke his leg in half. I have high hopes for Sharrod, but very low expectations.

ben's picture


House & Cobb < Perry, Heyward, Daniels, Barclay

Perry, Heyward, Daniels, Barclay < Lacey, Bakhtiari, Datone, Hyde, Boyd, (Tretter)

JimTaylor31's picture

Replacing the dependable T. Williams with the oft-injured and erractic House would not be such a good move. I Tramon walks, and House is our only option, I would hope that TT and MM run after him.

Evan's picture

Tramon isn't going anywhere this season.

As for House, I do agree he has all the potential in the world. Just needs to put it together.

He seemed to play well in the 49ers game after Shields went down.

Evan's picture

I honestly don't remember that - but I was content to chalk it up to horrible conditions and very average WRs.

Guisado's picture

If you have a draft and develop team, then your evaluation of drafting will be:

0 marquis player = bad
1 marquis player = average
2 marquis player = good
3+ marquis player = crazy good

That will give you a core of about 10 -14 guys. The rest are role players.

JimTaylor31's picture

Good point about getting 3 starters is "a very good year." That does tend to temper our expectations somewhat when we count on a draft to somehow fix multiple immediate needs. Bottom line is, if you have immediate needs going into a draft you're more than likely going to have about the same number of immediate needs coming out of the draft. The numbers don't lie. If we get 3 eventual starters that's a damn good draft and if we get even 1 immediate starter who is an impact player or even an upgrade that's damn good also.

MarkinMadison's picture

I get that availability matters, but that concept applies better to injuries that relate to conditioning. Nothing, nothing, about Sherrod's injury had anything to do with conditioning. If he had not been injured he likely would have been the starter at LT last year. Maybe another Marshall Newhouse, maybe much better. We may never know. Personally, I'd give Sherrod an Incomplete instead of an F. Or if you're grading Thompson, I'd give him the same. There is no way for a GM to say, "you know, that guy is likely to get his leg broken in two places, I'd better pass on him in the 1st round." Other than that, yeah, it was a pretty ugly draft class.

ben's picture

Sharrod couldn't have looked worse throughout the preseason, 13 games, & 121 snaps. He was an "F" before the injury, after an "F-."

Give me the undrafted Don Barclay over the 1st round Sharrod any day, every day, all day.

Nick Perry's picture

Sherrod was playing at Guard though right, did they ever put him at tackle? What I recall is he played Guard in his 121 snaps, didn't look good, and had one of the nastiest breaks I've seen. I love David B but I'd love to see Sherrod come into camp and kick some ass. The kid hasn't caught a positive break, it's time.

Guisado's picture

That was the strike year too. So he had no minicamp and couldn't even look at a play book until the first day of training camp. So of course he looked awful. Since Newhouse ended the last season strong, they basically red-shirted Sherrod, and decided to give all the LT the reps to Newhouse. They gambled Newhouse would improve but he didn't. But now Sherrod had no reps at LT. So they played him on special teams to work him in, but he got that freak injury that wasn't repaired properly. Doctors had to go back in 6 months later to re-break the bones and set them right. So he will actually have first professional minicamp this year.

The TKstinator's picture

Regardless of circumstance, I have NEVER thrown an interception in an NFL game.

BradHTX's picture

You are correct. Sherrod has been a disappointment for sure, but it's because the only "break" he's gotten in his whole time with the Packers has been in his leg. That and everything else has been bad luck/timing for him, pure and simple. He is not a bad pick/bust, just a casualty of circumstances beyond his control.

Will he ever live up to his draft status? That remains to be seen (hopefully this year). But if he doesn't, it will certainly be a different situation than, say, AJ Hawk. I agree that he deserves and incomplete rather than an F.

BradHTX's picture

Clarification: "You are correct" was in reference to Nick Perry and Guisado, not Cow. You are incorrect as usual, Cow. Of course Sherrod couldn't beat out Newhouse as a rookie -- with no training from the team prior to August. The dude was a low first round pick, not a #4 overall sure-fire stud like Joe Thomas.

And bear in mind that in '11, Newhouse had not yet begun his regression to total incompetence. He was never great, granted, but when he was initially the starter, he was at least competent, grading out positively in pass protection if not run blocking, if I recall correctly. The was never any way Sherrod was going to beat him out for the starting spot under the circumstances in which he came into the league.

Evan's picture

I think I've said this before, but 121 snaps is hardly a representative sample. That's doubly true for a rookie and triply true for a rookie playing out of position.

121 snaps is 2 games.

Zach Kruse's picture

I really went back and forth on giving Sherrod either an F or INC. You make good points for INC.

travis's picture

wow, thats a sad draft

Jordan's picture

TT was even at Hawaii's pro day looking at Alex Green.

It didn't matter for repeating in 2011 anyway.

Against Giants in playoffs (without Nick Collins):

Game was tied 10-10.....then:

Kuhn fumble
Rodgers fumble (on a terrible block by Lang)
Grant fumble

Throw in some huge dropped passes (Starks, Crabtree )
And an onside kick that completely backfired.
Game over.

Packers are only able to score 20 points at Lambeau.
Rodgers healthy. Jennings healthy. Finley healthy. Grant healthy. Starks healthy. Driver healthy. Nelson healthy. Cobb healthy. Jones healthy.
Didn't matter.

Season over-no repeat. One and done.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, There is more, & I shouldn't comment here, but I just couldn't pass this up. You guy's just can't see it, & probably don't believe it. We were 15-1. All the $$$$ in the world was on GB. I don't know why, & I don't know how. The $$$$ always seems to lose, & Las Vegas always seems to win???? Maybe someday we'll find out why?? LVT

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, I know you're not into Betting. You completely missed my point, but then again, I knew you would. LVT

Amanofthenorth's picture

Rulon Jones safety sack of Steve Grogan-- never forget that the NFL is entertainment.

HankScorpio's picture

It wasn't some Vegas conspiracy that caused that 15-1 Packer team to disappoint. It was a horribly flawed defense that was papered over in the regular season by an outstanding offense...and that offense picking the wrong time to play a sloppy, mistake-filled game. At the time, plenty of Packer fans saw it coming. Perhaps not in the first playoff game but plenty said that defense was too bad to lead to a championship.

Vegas always wins because they know how to stack the odds in their favor and the betting public doesn't know any better.

Jordan's picture

"and that offense picking the wrong time to play a sloppy, mistake filled game."

So the defense without their All-Pro safety was supposed to save the offense in that game? The defense had terrible field position the whole game including the on-side kick. Not many defenses could overcome that kind of poor offensive play.....especially in the playoffs. 4 turnovers by the offense? Really? Blame the defense?

The Packers offense couldn't even score enough points in XLV to win the game. It took a TD from that same All-Pro safety to score enough points to win the game.

Maybe you're asking too much of the defense? I don't think it's asking too much of an offense not to commit 3 fumbles and one interception in a home playoff game and not execute an on-side kick that gives the opponent excellent field position. My gosh. Look at the weapons TT provided for Rodgers and McCarthy in 2011. 4 turnovers and 20 points at home? blame the defense? really?

HankScorpio's picture

"Maybe you're asking too much of the defense?"

Maybe you're reading into my statement, instead of reading my statement.

I knew full well it was on the offense to play perfect for every game heading into that postseason. I knew full well that is a very tall order in the playoffs. Which is why I said that team was flawed, despite their 15-1 record.

No, I'm not really blaming the defense. That must be coming from the voices in your head.

The TKstinator's picture

Isn't the purpose of the point spread to even out the $ on each side?

Jordan's picture

It was 4 turnovers. 3 fumbles and 1 interception. But the net turnovers was 3 since Burnett intercepted a pass.

Mojo's picture

I look at it this way - except for Cobb the Packers don't have to worry about losing FA talent in 2015 from this draft class. Leaves plenty of money to spend on other FA's, whether our own or someone else's. Ted was just looking ahead. Brilliant.

Otto's picture

I've given TT a lot of credit for his drafts, but they are really hit or miss. He's had some clunkers like 2007, 2008 and 2011.

The TKstinator's picture

All GM's drafts are hit or miss. The good ones just have fewer misses. Do you doubt that TT is a good one?

Nopainnogain's picture

Seems like there should be some type of curve. Can you really give an 'F' for any 6/7th rounder? The odds are against those guys to begin with. The value of the pick that was used on the player should factor into the grade, especially if you're trying to tie some analysis of the GM with your grades. The other thing is that if you have a better team to begin with, it will be harder for draft picks to crack the roster or start. This grading system Zach used will inherently be biased to giving better draft grades to crappy teams because it is easier to crack the roster on those teams (less good players above them), and it is easier to find impact talent if you are picking earlier in the draft in every round than other teams.

Zach Kruse's picture

But I did grade on a curve. A B- for Ryan Taylor? He wouldn't have received that if he weren't a seventh round pick. And are you really arguing against an F for Schlauderaff or Elmore? Tell me which grades should be different?

HankScorpio's picture

Some are still holding out hope for Sherrod. I'm really not but I can't deny that he's not really had much of a chance to learn the pro game. I think Davon House can still develop by wringing some inconsistency out of his game. So this class might look a touch better after this season. Or maybe not.

Either way, this is the kind of draft that sets a team back, at least to some degree. That degree is amplified when the team uses the draft as heavily as the Packers in developing their roster. If such a team stacks too many drafts like this, it will soon be looking for a new GM.

Fortunately, 2012 was better. And 2013 better still.

L's picture

This was obviously not a great draft class for TT outside of R.Cobb (who hopefully becomes a perennial Pro Bowl player), but if D.Sherrod and D.House manage to become capable starters for the Pack (though they'll need to demonstrate that ability sooner rather than later) and given the use the team was able to get out of R.Taylor I think this draft class still has a chance to become a one that's at least considered pretty decent.

On a side note: Didn't the Packers lose some staff members from the front office the year before or prior to the draft that year. I know Director of Football Operations Reggie McKenzie departed, but weren't there some key members of the scouting department that moved on to other teams too. Didn't some leave with McKenzie? Did some retire? Those kind of things are typical for teams that win Super Bowls and/or reflect that they can maintain a winning/competitive culture. I'm just curious if some valuable people had left the team and in turn left them thin in their capability to evaluate talent going into the 2011 draft? If these recent drafts end up lacking in comparison to previous drafts of years past and there were key staff members who left perhaps then shouldn't that be considered a notable factor and that its been difficult for the team to replace some of those key members who are integral in assisting with the evaluation and projection of player skills/talents?

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